Creamy Zucchini Soup

Change is in the air. While I was walking through the farmer’s market in Capitol Hill last weekend I was admiring the abundance and variety that all the vendors have. We have hit that point where you are still seeing summer’s harvests while autumn’s harvest is starting to sneak in. This is one of the best times to visit a farmer’s market here because there are so many options. While we were at the market Brian and I picked up a treat from one of the bakery stands and sat in the park to take it all in. The sun was shinning, the air is cool, and we are starting to see the leave's colors slowly change. 

It is easy to see all the new produce at the stands and start craving things like pumpkin, kale, apples, and pears. But looking at the last of the zucchini and corn I am hoping to hold on to summer just a bit longer if I can. The air might not be as warm as I would hope for, but it will be summer in my kitchen, at least for this one meal.

Zucchini is the ultimate summer vegetable. You can prepare it in a multitude of ways, but the most perfect way to prepare zucchini when the air is cool like this is make a soup with it. I really love making a Creamy Zucchini Soup. I have been been making this soup almost as long as I have been cooking. The ingredients are simple and the epitome of its taste is sunshine and summer. I love throwing this dish together and it is comforting and homey in the way that most simple meals are. After the farmer’s market and seeing all those signs that summer is about gone I needed this; one last hurrah to savor the bits of goodness that summer was here. Thank you summer in my bowl of creamy zucchini soup, after this I can move onto autumn.

Creamy Zucchini Soup (Feeds 4 - 6)

6 cups sliced zucchini

1 onion, chopped into medium sized pieces

3 cloves of garlic, trimmed and sliced in half

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 - 1 1/2 quarts veggie or chicken stock

1/4 cup sour cream

Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

First, place a 6 quart pot over medium to hight heat. once heated through add your olive oil and heat until warm. Add the onion and zucchini and stir together. Let it all simmer and sizzle with the occasional stir about five minutes; the onions and zucchini will start to brown around the edges a bit. Add in your garlic and chili flakes and stir it all together again and simmer it all together about five more minutes. You are looking for the contents of the pot to soften a bit. Season the mixture with sea salt ad fresh black pepper to your liking and let it simmer.

Next, add your stock to the pot and let it all simmer together. Giving the pot a stir every so often, let the pot simmer and reduce by a 1/4.

Then,  once your pot is reduced you can remove it from the heat and let it cool about 10 minutes. Once it has cooled a bit you can add your sour cream. Using an immersion blender or food processor, carefully puree the whole pot together. 

Finally, place the pot back on your burner on medium heat and heat through. Stirring it frequently. Once warmed through, season again with sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste. Serve while warm and enjoy.

Corn Muffins

For the last month, possibly more, we have been on the go. We have been going at an active, non-stop pace. We had my parents visiting, we celebrated a big anniversary, we took a trip from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, and once we were back in the states it was time for me to change the menu at work. So needless to say things have been just a tad bit busy. I woke up yesterday morning with a desire to do nothing! It was my day off - do you blame me? I was in a mood to do nothing more than watch back to back episodes of anything airing on the Investigate & Discovery Chanel. That is, nothing other than make a quick breakfast to munch on while I binge watch TV. I had a craving for corn muffins, and as I was whisking the ingredients together I realized I never shared a recipe for them on here. So that Is how I ended up here today.


In my opinion a great corn muffin uses real corn meal. No box mix or corn flour in this recipe; and yes, most corn meals are a bit gritty. That is why it is important for these muffins you use a finely ground corn meal. It imparts a great flavor without feeling mealy or harsh. The third of a cup of sugar in this recipe enhances the corn’s natural sweetness too. Plus, the balance of milk and butter in these muffins keep the texture of these muffins moist and light, without being heavy or dense. A perfect corn muffin.

So, while we lounged watching rerun episodes of Dateline, we enjoyed warm corn muffins. It was so indulgent and enjoyable. I sipped tea while spreading butter and jam across my corn muffin as we tried to guess who was guilty or had motive in each of the episodes, and munch some more. It was glorious! Corn Muffin perfection and real life crime stories. Maybe the TV shows are not for everyone, but I am sure these muffins are.


Corn Muffins (Makes 12)

1 cup corn meal (finely ground)

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp baking powder

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup milk

3 oz butter, melted (plus more for the pan)

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. With a bit of extra butter, brush the inside of your muffing tin. You will need to butter at least a dozen of them.

Next, in a bowl place your flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk it together and set it aside. In another bowl, whisk together your egg, melted butter, vanilla, and milk until smooth. Add your dry ingredients. Lightly whisk it together until blended well. (You do not want to over mix this batter.)

Then, fill the buttered muffin pan evenly and place in the center of the oven. You are looking to bake your muffins about 20 - 25 minutes. You are looking for the muffins to be slightly golden, and lets a toothpick test cleanly when pierced.

Finally, remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before removing from pan. Serve and enjoy. (These are best when served warm.)

Fifteen years ago

  Fifteen years ago I did something I never expected to do in my life. I married Brian. Some girls dream of their wedding day, but I was not one of those girls. I knew that Brian was the one that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. But the whole pomps and circumstances that surround a wedding was not for me. The dress, the ring, the flowers - I could do without it all.


But despite all of that; yes. We got engaged, and yes…we somewhat planned a wedding. Truth is our family did the majority of it all as they were terribly afraid that if they didn’t our wedding would never happen. And quite possibly it would not have. About two months before our wedding day (6-2-01) I was sitting in our apartment packing boxes as we were in the mist of moving into a home we just purchased. Brian and I were talking about little wedding details our parents were hounding us on when all of a sudden I felt like a huge hypocrite. I looked at him and said…”What are we doing? Why are we going through all of this? I never wanted any of this. All of this for one day is a bit insane. I cannot stand it.” The look that came over Brian’s face was pure terror. He was baffled and speechless for a moment and finally responded with, “Are you really saying you don’t want to get married now?!?”


And just like that I knew I had to swallow my pride. I might have never fantasized about this one day, yet there was a part of Brian that did. I knew it right then and there. It was time for me to close my mouth and let the whole wedding ordeal take place. When all was said and done, it really was not that bad of a day. It was actually fun and I understood Brian’s point of view. It was possibly the one time when all of our family and friends were in one place just for us. They witnessed and celebrated us doing the one thing I said I would never do. I married the love of my life, my best friend, and the only one who I tell all my secrets and dreams to. By finally going through the whole wedding day I have one more special day of memories with him to share and that alone was worth it.


So, for our fifteenth wedding anniversary I will recreate the first meal I ever cooked for Brian. One of the most simple pasta dishes there is. It has olives, capers, and bit of crushed red pepper flakes for some kick - Pasta Puttanesca. Brian loves it and always comments on the fact of when I said I was making dinner that evening for him (many, many years ago) he questioned where the jars of sauce were kept? He was quickly impressed when he learned I was making it from scratch…I hope after all this time I continue to impress him like that. Happy Anniversary Brian, thank you for putting up with me all these years! Thank you for the memories of our special day.


 Pasta Puttanesca (feeds 2 +)

**NOTES: I personally like the oil cured olives in this dish. (Those are the black wrinkly ones.) if you cannot find them feel free to use something like a Kalamata. Also, If you cannot find strained tomatoes, you can puree some whole ones in a can, at least 1 1/2 cups worth.

1 cup oil cured olives, pitted and roughly chopped

1 tbsp capers, drained

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

pinch of dried oregano

3 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cup strained tomatoes

sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

1/3 pound penne rigate pasta

Parmesan Cheese, for serving

First, place a large pot filled with salted water over high heat. Meanwhile, place a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once heated through add you olive oil and warm it up. To this you will add your crushed red pepper, olives, oregano, and garlic. Stir it all together and watch it carefully as you do not want to burn your garlic.

Next, once your garlic is fragrant (about one minute) add your tomatoes and about 1/2 cup of water. Stir it well and let it come to a simmer. Once simmering you can add your capers to your tomato mixture.Let it simmer may need to lower your heat a bit.

Then, when your pot of water should come to a boil add in your pasta. Stir it well, and cook it for as long as is indicated on the box, stirring it frequently. Once your pasta is done cooking strain it well.

Finally, add your pasta to your tomato sauce. Toss it well, while still simmering. Season it with sea salt and fresh black pepper and serve it with freshly grated parmesan.